The Cleanest Line

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    The Shackboy Labor Day Marg

    Kc - DG_shack_fire_sm I love the characters in our world. They color things, make everything interesting, and so often dwell on the fringe. Maybe it was a compliment when my friend, The Chief, got lectured by his father: “When are you drifters gonna move out of the gray area and join the human race!”
    Another such character, The Danimal – Dan Gambino, more formally – and I have a connection first forged in beer, climbing, and the Big Lebowski. And, as such, Labor Day weekend seems an appropriate time for this post, given our mutual lack of labor back in the Shack days.
    We’d met at my wedding, when he crashed it. He was friends with my buddy Pete, who invited Dan, who then bivied in mine and my soon-to-be-then wife’s house and puked in one of our gift boxes – though he denies it and blames Pete, who denies and blames Dan. No wonder the marriage didn’t work.
    We became Shack Brothers in 2000, when we both lived in what was once publicly decried – in front of a packed banquet at some fancy-pants climbers’ dinner – as a “foul pit of climbing ambition and dirty dishes.” Yes, the storied local guide’s shack in Estes Park. The Almighty Shack to us. PBR cans and trash littered the floor, daylight shone through the gaps in the wall, and the mice and rats so infested our humble abode that, at times, I’d hear the Danimal going ballistic, chasing them around and hurling food cans at them. Every evening, after work our fellow climbing guides came to hang, swill PBR (for the record: this was long before frat boys and hipsters glommed onto PBR as a cool slummin’ brand), and tell outrageous stories about their day.

    [The Danimal in action, circa 2000. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

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    So It Begins (with a margarita recipe)

    Kc - sd lost deville 0190

    At my margarita deck party here on the Solstice, of which I remember little, Tommy C had told Scotty D that this one obscure crag had three good routes, each a number grade apart. Scotty thinks he might have remembered that they went left to right, easy to hard. Our friend Ammon later told Scotty that he knows the crag – he’d been there before – even though, it turns out, Tommy was talking about an entirely different crag. I’d just started walking without a cane a month prior, and been out climbing a few times. Scotty told me, “Sounds like a 15-minute approach, should be OK for your leg.”

    [Scotty D: “Is it over there?” Photo: Kelly Cordes]

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    The Blessed Inconvenience of Abundance

    Mater on vine Have you ever tried to grow zucchini? I haven’t. I’m a youngest child, and a fortunate side effect of that is a tendency to learn from others’ mistakes. I would watch my siblings get in trouble for something and make a mental note of what not to do. That’s why I’ve shied away from zucchini. I’ve seen too often the near-mad glaze that comes over the face of well-meaning friends who’ve grown an average crop of it. I’ve stood back in silent awe as they thrust friendship offerings in the form of grocery sacks full of the stuff at sworn enemies. I’ve shared meals with these crazed folks, where la courgette shows up in multiple forms—each version seasoned liberally with bitter resignation—a clue that this dinner wasn’t a social occasion but a collaborative effort to dispatch massive quantities of the unreasonably prolific vegetable.

    Having not attempted to grow zucchini, I haven’t learned one of the many valuable lessons it has to teach, chief among them is the blessed inconvenience of abundance. That's why I said yes when a friend asked me if I wanted some tomatoes for sauce-making. She was wearing sunglasses. It was a tactical maneuver, I now realize. Those glasses were designed to hide her mad-zucchini eyes, the ones screaming “Please! Take my tomatoes! They’ve taken over my house but won’t pay my mortgage! I can’t find my countertops and the dog is missing!”

    I walked away from that encounter 40lbs heavier. And with no idea what I’d gotten myself into.

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    From Oceans to the Arctic Refuge

    Cfood4thought1The time has come for Patagonia to shift its environmental activism focus from Oceans as Wilderness to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The goal of our new campaign is to help secure permanent protection for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge through designation as Wilderness.

    To commemorate the Oceans as Wilderness campaign, we enjoyed a special Seafood for Thought lunch in Ventura last week. The menu was created by our very own Micah Knox: panko crusted diver scallops with a micro green salad tossed in wasabi vinaigrette served with roasted garlic ginger burre blanc. For dessert, Ben & Jerry's kindly donated three flavors of their delicious ice cream. I chose Phish Food...

    Download the recipe for Panko Crusted Diver Scallops (PDF)

    [Choose your scallops wisely. Photo: Free]

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